It is a very hard line to walk on and so thin sometimes that I think anyone who has been a manager can probably empathise with the daily tightrope this can be.
The question is how much of a fun / friendly boss can you be and still have enough respect from your staff that when the whip needs cracking they are not going to laugh in your face. For most people, we still want to be liked as a boss. It is not often that I spoke to someone who said they hoped their team went home miserable and having nightmares of thought of another day at work.
Some people I find like to put on a hard front as though it really doesn’t matter to them what their team thinks of them, but I often find that if you can find the chink in the armour that underneath the steely front they really do care.
So how do you stay on the boss line without being a complete little Attila the Hun?
1. Timing. Basically, almost as with children, there is a time to be “fun” and a time for “work”. Deadline day is not a day for “fun”. Friday afternoon, if the pace has slowed a little and the targets are not a million miles away, is possibly the time to relax the mood a little.
2. Be there for your staff for emotional issues, but at a step away from the actual situation. It is unlikely the person in front of you is your best friend from childhood. So be an ear and support to the person, but there is a time limit you can commit to personal dramas. You have a whole team to run.
3. Be on the companies side. Sometimes we have to hand out targets or information that is not what anyone thinks is reasonable. But if you are seen to be moaning and groaning with the rest of the staff where does that stand you? On the teams side. You are in a managerial position to manage the team. The time for you to air your complaints about the over inflated targets is when you are home.. even if it just the cat that has to listen.
4. Staying sober on work nights. This is the best piece of advice for any manager. Although it does not make for as much fun for some people, chances of you blabbing your true feelings on the company, or revealing that in years gone by you were an ecstasy junked up raver is not a good thing. I had a manager who got paralytic at every event where alcohol was served. Three months in I knew about his childhood, his wife, kids, his affair and he tried to kiss me. After six months in the job he was (basically) ordered to stop drinking at work events!
5. Most people can sense the mood of a person, so ensure that when the work needs to be done your mood shows this. Work can often become a part of our social lives where we do meet people that we genuinely click with, but just remember that when you open the door to the office, you are in charge and they work for you. On the way out of the door, you are still parade.